Yesterday I sold myself out.
The Caboose had a concert last night, the “final exam” for his chorus class. It was at 7:00 P.M. at a church about 30 minutes from home.
My Mother-in-Law (who lives with us) has been having some medical issues this week, and my husband and I thought it best that she stay home and have her visit with the home health nurse. Knowing she’d be upset if she found out he was performing and we weren’t taking her, I did something I’ve never done before.
I told my son to lie.
I wrapped it around an explanation that, albeit true, was justification to disregard one of the standards I hold highest. At least I did until yesterday.
Since we’d be leaving the house just a few hours after getting home from school, she was bound to ask where we were going. And in his chorus uniform (dress clothes with a tie) a casual explanation wasn’t plausible. I suppose I could’ve just sneaked out the back door in stealth mode, but there would have to be an explanation of why the sitter was staying late. I felt trapped by The Truth. So I made a judgment call. And I lied.
We all tell lies. We really do. “This is the best cake I’ve ever tasted.” “I can’t make it in to work today.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t get the message.” We rationalize the lies we tell by pretending they’re harmless. We justify their use by the goal we’re trying to achieve.
As adults, we live in a world where things are not always black and white. We rely on experience and outcome to make judgment calls at times. And we sometimes lie in the process.
But at eleven years old, he doesn’t yet have that body of experience, or the understanding to make those calls. I told him that it was OK to lie because the truth would hurt her feelings. I packaged it up neatly in a way that would make it easy. Then I engaged him in the process, we told the cover story, and left.
On the way to school this morning, he was the first to bring it up. “It felt weird lying to Grandma last night.” I told him that I thought so too, and that we shouldn’t do it again. But the fact of the matter is that we will have to do it again, because she can’t do everything we do. I’ll just have to make sure I have a better plan, one that doesn’t require his participation.
And I’m now left to wonder where else he’ll apply this new standard of relativism.
“If it doesn’t hurt anyone, it’ll be OK.”
“She’ll never find out, so why not?”
“I’m only lying because I don’t want to hurt her.”
So The Truth, which I used to hold in such high regard, is now reduced to a standard I’m willing to sacrifice for a greater good in my son’s eyes. I sure wish I could get a do-over on this one.
What do you think? Is it OK to tell a lie in certain situations?